Statement: Sage Grouse Management Plans and ‘Not Warranted' Finding for ESA Protection

Greater Sage-Grouse, Noppadol Paothong

Greater Sage-Grouse, Noppadol Paothong

Contact: Steve Holmer, 202-888-7490,

(Sept. 22, 2015) Federal management plans unveiled today are crucial for the conservation of the Greater Sage-Grouse. They protect sagebrush habitat from industrial development and wildfires, and adopt new management standards that advance conservation and habitat restoration across over 50 million acres of the species' range on public lands.

These Bureau of Land Management and USDA Forest Service conservation plans represent a huge collaborative effort involving multiple stakeholders. These complex plans need to be given a chance to work. Based on this, we believe that additional legislation and regulation concerning the grouse is not needed at this time and support the Department of Interior's decision that Endangered Species Act (ESA) protection is currently ‘not warranted.'

However, it will take time to tell if these plans foster enough habitat protection and effective controls on future developments to justify a final conclusion that the species will never warrant ESA protection.

“We are concerned about continued habitat loss from oil and gas drilling and new power line construction,” said Steve Holmer, Senior Policy Advisor for American Bird Conservancy. “We want to see regular reviews of the species' population trend to learn if the current long-term decline is reversed. The plans must be shown to be working, and the extraordinary conservation efforts on private lands continued. If not, the listing issue may have to be revisited in the future.”

We applaud the major conservation effort initiated by a range of stakeholders to support grouse recovery. These efforts, under the Natural Resources Conservation Service's Sage Grouse Initiative, have made significant progress to improve grouse habitat on private working lands, which are critical to the conservation of this and many other at-risk species.

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American Bird Conservancy is the Western Hemisphere's bird conservation specialist — the only organization with a single and steadfast commitment to achieving conservation results for native birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. With a focus on efficiency and working in partnership, we take on the toughest problems facing birds today, innovating and building on sound science to halt extinctions, protect habitats, eliminate threats, and build capacity for bird conservation.